View Full Version : Help! Supervisor didn't follow up with reasonable accommodation


snjyds
05-04-17, 09:05 PM
In my workplace, there are 90 minute long meetings about 9 times each year which everyone is supposed to attend. Since I work primarily from home, I had requested my supervisor to provide reasonable accommodation for my ADHD by giving me timely reminders (about a day in advance).

The request for reasonable accommodation was done as follows:
1. I obtained a letter from my doctor about my condition.
2. I filled out a small form requesting reasonable accommodation as "timely reminder before meetings".
3. I submitted the doctor's letter and the completed form Human Resources
4. There was a meeting with someone at Human Resources, my supervisor, and me. My supervisor agreed to provide reminders.

My supervisor never followed up!

About a year later, I applied for promotion. My supervisor's recommendation included a "concern" that I missed meetings! As a result, I was denied promotion!

Is my supervisor at fault? Did he violate any ADA clause?

namazu
05-04-17, 10:21 PM
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.

(I have worked in academe.)

I'm sorry you're in this situation. I've also been in the position of having requested accommodations that were sometimes neglected, though without HR's involvement. It's frustrating and detrimental to both the employee and employer when accommodations aren't provided. (And not exactly legal, assuming the accommodations were "reasonable" and affordable, which they certainly seem to be in your case.)

It seems pretty straightforward to say, based on what you've shared here, that you were not given the agreed-upon accommodation of notice before meetings (assuming there weren't also department-wide e-mail announcements about it that you received along with everyone else).

Whether or not you could make a case (informal, or legal) that this denied accommodation played a major/decisive role in your not being promoted seems more difficult, and I couldn't guess based only on what you've shared here.

A few questions:


Does your department/division have any kind of written document governing the criteria for promotion? (Do you have a copy? Can you assemble documentation showing that you meet/exceed these criteria, save for meeting attendance?)
Is your position part of a union/bargaining unit? (If so, you may want to contact your union rep.)
Is there a formal appeals procedure for promotion decisions at your institution / in your department?

acdc01
05-05-17, 12:20 AM
Id talk to a disability lawyer if you cant get union belp. Thats what i did and i can tell you, i would undoubtedly have lost my case over technicalities had i not spoken to a lawyer.

Are you sure you were denied the promotion because of the meetings thing? If you opt not to talk to a lwyer/union rep which I think would be a mistake, then can you first get verbal or written confirm in a non suspicious way like asking if you can know why you didn't get the promotion and improve in the future or something like that? Document whatever they tell you both what they said and the date they said it.

It'd say more but I still really think you should get professional advice. Based on my experiences, my lawyer would be able to tell you whether you had a case or not in less than hour at roughly $400/hr though costs in your area may vary. You can ask the lawyer before you decide to meet with him what his estimated cost will be if he doesnt straight up tell you like mine did. $400 Sounds like a lot but it's really nothing compared to the benefits that could be gained if you can afford the cost. If you have a case, my lawyer could help you figure out an approach on how to get that promotion in another hours worth of time based on my experiences. If you need a lawyer to talk to your company instead of you doing the talking thougj, that could add up in dollars (which is why I did my own talking though some people might not be able to handle that well).

Also fyi, no company likes someone who forces their hand legally. So I'd definitely try to get the promotion but if you can do it in a way that is less threatening to a company, you may be better off. My company settled with me but you know Noone likes someone that points out legal infractions so if you get that promotion, through threats, they may find legit reasons (thry are easy for a company to make up) for you not to get the next promotion.

snjyds
05-05-17, 12:28 AM
Does your department/division have any kind of written document governing the criteria for promotion? (Do you have a copy? Can you assemble documentation showing that you meet/exceed these criteria, save for meeting attendance?)

Yes, there is. In fact I have a written letter from the administration clearly stating that otherwise I meet/exceed the other requirements for productivity.



Is there a formal appeals procedure for promotion decisions at your institution / in your department?

Unfortunately, the administration at the highest level redirected it back to Human Resources who came back with utter nonsense that if the reasonable accommodation was "ineffective", they can work out other means with my supervisor and me. Investigation by two different governing bodies isn't allowed where I work.

BTW, this is only the tip of the ice-berg! There's a lot more to it. In fact, my first attempt was stymied because a couple of senile (and very unproductive) colleagues whined informally that I didn't "participate in corridor chit chit with them". Can you believe it? When I'm too preoccupied with a math problem (my hyper-focus), I'm too absent-minded to notice them!

snjyds
05-05-17, 12:33 AM
The problem is that courts allow universities with too much latitude. My plan is to publicize my case via the internet, and upload all documents/emails pertaining to my case. I don't know how much should remain confidential and how much I can legally upload for public viewing. I also intend to go to the local newspaper.

I can show you/anyone else here the emails/documents, but for now, only privately.

namazu
05-05-17, 12:38 AM
I agree with acdc01 that it would be good to seek legal counsel ASAP.

(Probably best to do so before publicizing any details, in case they could come back to bite you legally.)

EuropeanADHD
05-05-17, 01:52 AM
Can you maybe reach the same thing ("timely reminder before meetings") without the engagement of HR and your boss?

For example if you have all your meetings in your Outlook calendar you can have an automatic reminder pop up and remind you about them an hour, half an hour or a few minutes before. Or do you mean a different kind of a reminder?

sarahsweets
05-05-17, 03:37 AM
unless you plan to sue,I dont think you should make anything public.

snjyds
05-06-17, 12:22 AM
unless you plan to sue,I dont think you should make anything public. I want my plight known to the world. The reasonable accommodation issue became reality only because I got panic attacks at work. Before that, everything was just fine.

The reason for my panic attacks is because I was singled out and denied promotion even earlier, because I lack social skills.

I want my to be an example of what people with our condition may have to undergo. Somewhere, studies suggest that on average, a person with ADHD is 5 years behind in his/her career. I'm a clear cut example!

snjyds
05-06-17, 12:23 AM
Can you maybe reach the same thing ("timely reminder before meetings") without the engagement of HR and your boss? The point is I was declined promotion that's not even my fault!

EuropeanADHD
05-06-17, 05:49 AM
The point is I was declined promotion that's not even my fault!

I get that and I'm sorry you haven't been promoted.

I think however that everybody, while reading a post, refers the situation to themselves a bit. And I know at none of my previous jobs such an accommodation would have been accepted... However it's really super easy to have the reminders pop up in Office (or other similar software) - I couldn't live without my reminders. With years I started to see my employers more as an adversary to deal with than someone vitally interested in my well-being and motivated to support me I guess, simply because by professional experiences so far made it clear for me I shouldn't have too much faith in them.

sarahsweets
05-06-17, 06:08 AM
I want my plight known to the world. The reasonable accommodation issue became reality only because I got panic attacks at work. Before that, everything was just fine.
But whats your end goal? To sue? Get that promotion? Publicizing this will not get you a result without legal action, and it wont make your job give you something you think you deserve. They can come up with all sorts of reasons you didnt get a promotion. I think making stuff public will be like shooting yourself in the foot.


The reason for my panic attacks is because I was singled out and denied promotion even earlier, because I lack social skills.

I want my to be an example of what people with our condition may have to undergo. Somewhere, studies suggest that on average, a person with ADHD is 5 years behind in his/her career. I'm a clear cut example!

You can be the example if you want but you might end up out of a job all together.

acdc01
05-06-17, 11:37 AM
I wouldn't make anything public until you talk to a lawyer. I'm afraid not only will your current employer end up hating you so your future is dead even if you got the promotion but other potential employers won't want to hire you after that. No one wants to hire whistle blowers.

Add to that, I don't think the general public will sympathize with you. Miss meetings, jist get a reminder app. Not an excuse is what they'll think. Cause they won't understand our hurdles no matter how much we explain.

Don't let your emotions cloud your judgement.

Little Missy
05-06-17, 12:14 PM
I wouldn't make anything public until you talk to a lawyer. I'm afraid not only will your current employer end up hating you so your future is dead even if you got the promotion but other potential employers won't want to hire you after that. No one wants to hire whistle blowers.

Add to that, I don't think the general public will sympathize with you. Miss meetings, jist get a reminder app. Not an excuse is what they'll think. Cause they won't understand our hurdles no matter how much we explain.

Don't let your emotions cloud your judgement.

:goodpost: Choose your battles carefully.

VoxPopuli
05-06-17, 04:30 PM
I get that and I'm sorry you haven't been promoted.

I think however that everybody, while reading a post, refers the situation to themselves a bit. And I know at none of my previous jobs such an accommodation would have been accepted... However it's really super easy to have the reminders pop up in Office (or other similar software) - I couldn't live without my reminders. With years I started to see my employers more as an adversary to deal with than someone vitally interested in my well-being and motivated to support me I guess, simply because by professional experiences so far made it clear for me I shouldn't have too much faith in them.

I "get" both definitions, and have committed to actions based on both ways of viewing employers.

The best one is to think of it more along the lines as EuropeanADHD suggests. Employers only care about the work they do. Our jobs do not define us, they require our time and for that they are willing to pay you for it. If it's something they really need, they'll pay well for it. If you can't demostrate/differentiate yourself from others that do something similar - then you won't be paid that much.

The goal for a company is to sell stuff that provides a solution, any employee that can help them do THAT - better than anyone else - THAT employee can control his/her own future.

Bosses/managers are gatekeepers - they protect the decision makers from having to hear a constant variations of: "just listen to me, MY new idea will revolutionize YOUR bidness", or "if you did everything MY way, everyone would be SO much HAPPIER". They do thins while also providing answers and making smaller decisions for their various departmental employees - decisions that DON'T have to go to the top of the organization, but still have be made.

It's been my experience, most of these "gatekeepers" are encouraged to keep their jobs by heading-off problems. Sometimes the problems can't be contained and dealt with on a small enough level - and sometimes the gatekeepers themselves create problems - for these special times companies and corporations have invented the wonderful world of Human Resources...

Just remember - HR is a risk management department - despite all of their statements to the opposite, HR exists to mitigate/lessen the impact of a severe problem. They work FOR management, they are NOT union reps or the school nurse...

HR is paid to minimize problems (risk), if you show yourself to be a risk/problem, you will be given a chance to fix it. If you continue to show up as a risk, you will be eliminated. If you **** off a gatekeeper, you are a risk and if you do this while also delivering substandard work, or missing appointments/deadlines established by the gatekeeper, you will be eliminated.

It's just that simple.

I share this as someone who has ALSO missed an opportunity at a promotion because of a bad gatekeeper. If that's your problem, take it from me, you can fight the gatekeeper, or you can find a new job. If you choose to fight the gatekeeper, you should know the results of fighting and looking are often the same, you just don't always get to be in control of the process.

I suggest looking for a job while you already have one.

Little Missy
05-06-17, 04:43 PM
Everyone is replaceable.

dvdnvwls
05-06-17, 05:08 PM
In other words, for anyone in HR who you personally did not hire, either they're your enemy or they're irrelevant to you. A meeting with HR is always a step on the road to getting fired, never a source of help - unless, again, you personally hired them.


This is for two reasons: their job is to make a specific kind of problem go away for whoever hired them, and the specific problem is that you want something.

acdc01
05-07-17, 03:59 AM
I suggest looking for a job while you already have one.

Good advice I think. Perhaps you can talk to your lawyer and get some compensation for the discrimination while finding a new place to work (tell your lawyer you are doing this before you actually accept another job) since I would imagine your career potential will be dead after taking action or your workplace will become even more hostile than it already is.

You could just get another job and forget trying for compensation for the loss of promotion but that would really be your choice. I couldn't do that myself. I officially complained about the discrimination and sought compensation for it not for financial or career growth reasons but because if I hadn't, my mental health would have declined. I was having difficulties sleeping, was ruminating often over the discrimination (and I'm the type who usually lets go of things easily), and my blood pressure would sometimes jump to potentially damaging levels just at the thought of the discrimination.

I actually feel tremendously better now after having officially complained and asked for compensation. It wasn't just the discrimination that had bothered me so, it was that I couldn't stand that I hadn't done everything I could to right their wrong. To let them step all over me even doing illegal things against me and just let them get away without even trying to fight against it. It was ridiculous but I couldn't stop feeling this way and having my mental health be affected by it. Your desire to make things public and possibly make things better for ADHDers make me wonder if your mental health would suffer if you didn't take action like myself (I don't know you so don't know if it's true, just wondering).

Anyway, just some thoughts as I wanted to help you understand the possible results of your actions (might affect your mental health, might hurt your career growth if you threaten your company or publicize the discrimination, etc.).

My absolute best wishes to you. My situation actually had many similarities to yours so I totally sympathize.

VoxPopuli
05-12-17, 04:48 PM
Yes, each person has to weigh their "fight or fight" response - and commit to it based on their own unique set of issues.

In my case, I was encouraged to say something to HR early on, but I declined because it had been my experience that - on the rare occasion that someone went to HR and managed to lodge a successful complaint against their boss - their careers tended to languish.

I initially thought my job performance would at least give me some credibility - it didn't. It was allowed to go on several years before I made what I thought was an obvious decision to go to HR. Eventually, and pending an investigation, the supervisor was temporarily moved into another department, ultimately the HR "investigation" led to that supervisor being encouraged to seek employment elsewhere.

The main reason I hadn't gone to HR earlier is that I felt I would make myself a target. I put up with poor behavior from because prior to this supervisor, I had been on a track for career advancement - I felt my best chance to stay on that track was to comply and wait it out - that if I could somehow just lay-low,'keep my powder dry' and do my job...I might avoid catching his attention, and move up (and out)...it seemed to work initially, as my job performance continued earning solid reviews, which suddenly coincided with abusive pubic outbursts/behavior towards me!? The better I did helped paint me as a target. Eventually, the abuse got to a level I couldn't take it any longer and I finally made a formal complaint.

Since his departure - I've been encouraged to be happy in my current role, even though I've never been advised to correct any behavior, and I remain a top performer. While I was wasting time with inner turmoil, the window on my career slid shut.

I believe this supervisor poisoned the well - after this happened - it didn't matter whether I reported early or after several years - they didn't want any facts, despite stellar sales performance, they'd made up their minds.

That's the reason for my advice to find (and TAKE) the other job before going public. In fact, if you don't have a great chance of protecting yourself financially (i.e., if you aren't 100% convinced you can win the judicial lottery), find a job while you still have one, and just move on. Let your former company suffer under the weight/endorsing/protecting bad managers.

What's that hilarious old saying: "...nothing personal, it's just business..." only, don't do it through the courts, the only ones involved that leave "happy," regardless of the outcome...are the lawyers.

If at all possible, DO NOT go to HR, if you do, don't expect to have a career with that company. Find another job and leave the one that mistreats you, just shake the dust off your shoes when you do...

VoxPopuli
05-12-17, 04:56 PM
Everyone is replaceable.

This. #QFT